Akshay Kumar is one of Bollywood's most successful stars, who is quite possibly doing more movies than most stars his age.
And if you add the age of all his leading ladies - it would still not be closer to his age. (This was meant to be sarcastic, but at this point, it could actually be true!)
Bollywood has long had a problem of wide age gaps between a movie's leads. And very rarely has the age gap been a requirement of the story. Mostly, it's just casual sexism at play, where the hero gets older while the heroine gets replaced by a younger heroine.
And Akshay Kumar's movies are the most obvious example of that, where his leading ladies seem to get younger with each new film. And sadly, we're not making this up:
1. Patiala House (2011)
Akshay Kumar was 44 at the time, and Anushka Sharma was 23. And that brings the age gap between them to be 21.
2. Rowdy Rathore (2012)
Akshay had a double role in the film... and was almost double the age of his leading lady Sonakshi Sinha, who was 25 at the time and 20 years his junior. There was no reasonable explanation provided for the age gap.
3. Singh is Bling (2015)
Akshay Kumar's co-lead in the film, Amy Jackson, was only 23 at the time the movie released. Kumar, on the other hand, was 48 at the time and thus, 25 years her senior. Yup, the same number of years at which we celebrate silver anniversaries!
Lara Dutta, who is actually closer to Akshay's age in real life (though still 11 years his junior) and even played his romantic interest at the start of her career, was also cast in the film but not as his romantic interest. This casting makes just as much sense as the film's story.
4. Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (2017)
At 50, Akshay played a leading man in one of his first few films with a social message. His character also stalked his love and sneakily took her photo. His love interest was played by Bhumi Pednekar who was 28 at the time.
The film also starred Divyendu Sharma, who has proven to be a good actor. And who, at 34, was certainly closer to Bhumi in age.
5. Pad Man (2018)
A story worth telling starred Akshay, 51 at the time, along with two female leads - both of whom fall in love with him. Both Radhika Apte, who plays his wife in the film, and Sonam Kapoor, who plays a fellow activist, were 33 when the film came out.
6. Kesari (2019)
Parineeti Chopra was Akshay Kumar's co-star in the film, and there was an age gap of 21 years between the two. Kumar was 52 when the film released, and Chopra, 31.
7. Housefull 4 (2019)
The latest in the Housefull edition was an assault for the senses where all the three male leads were considerably older than their female co-stars. Akshay Kumar, in particular, was 52 and romanced Pooja Hegde and Kriti Sanon's characters in the film. Both Hegde and Sanon were 29 at the time.
That's an age gap of 23 years - coincidentally, the same number as Anushka and Amy Jackson's age, when they worked with Kumar at different points in his career.
This Akshay Kumar starrer horror-comedy was embroiled in controversy for its original title, though the storyline was what people should have actually objected to. Abysmal writing aside, the film cast Kiara Advani (28) opposite Akshay Kumar (53).
The film also cast Ayesha Raza, who is actually 10 years junior to Kumar in real life, but played his mother-in-law in the film.
9. Bell Bottom (2021)
In Bell Bottom, Vaani Kapoor, who is 33, played Akshay Kumar's love interest in the film. Kumar is 54. Reportedly, he was the one who suggested that his co-star from Andaaz and Bhaagam Bhag, Lara Dutta, who is 43, play former PM, Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
While Dutta was unrecognizable as Mrs. Gandhi, the age gap between Kumar and Kapoor was all too familiar!
Akshay Kumar's upcoming historical drama marks the debut of former Miss World Manushi Chhillar. Chhillar, who plays Kumar's love interest in the film, is 24 and thus, 30 years his junior. That's actually older than most of Kumar's co-stars.
Yes, occasionally, Kumar has starred with actors closer to his age but those instances have been few and far in between. Whether it's because Kumar acts in more movies than his co-stars, or because Bollywood has forgotten what age-appropriate casting looks like, but this trend needs to die.
Hopefully, before Kumar can pick yet another film where the leading lady is younger than his tenure in the film industry!